When you’re doing a script breakdown, you’ll come across certain elements that are labeled as “hidden” in your breakdown report.

These elements, which can include items like weapons, vehicles and VFX, will be listed under the category of “hidden” so that they can still be accounted for by the production team without taking up valuable screen time.


Hidden Elements In a Script Breakdown

What Are hidden elements In A Script Breakdown?

Hidden elements are hard to describe. They’re not always easy to find either, but they’re in every script.

A hidden element is any line of dialogue or narrative description that contains information, which must be included in the shot list or production schedule, but does not necessarily yield a visible on-screen object.

Tasks are broken down into three categories: main (M), supporting (S) and extra (E).

All tasks should be defined as precisely as possible so that all parties involved in the production are clear about their responsibilities, no matter how small.



A Script Breakdown is a list of the elements that are required to make a film. This can be anything from props, costumes, locations and actors.

A script breakdown is listed in order of importance and provides an indication to the production manager or director as to what they need to shoot.

Script breakdowns are usually broken down into three sections:

  • preparation,
  • scheduled, and
  • standby.

Preparation refers to the tasks that need to be completed before any filming can take place.

Scheduled refers to the tasks that need to be set up during the filming schedule.

And standby refers to tasks that are in place just in case they are needed.

What Are Hidden Elements In A Script Breakdown?

Hidden elements are not actually hidden from view in the script; they are simply hidden from the main characters in the scene.

To determine which elements should be labeled as hidden, you should read through each scene and ask yourself, “Would anyone else know this element was there if they walked into this room?”

If the answer is yes, then it should be added to your script breakdown report.

Hidden elements can include things like:


These are characters who have no lines, but who appear in a scene because they’re part of the background action. For example, if two people walk into a crowded train station and pass through the crowd, all those people who aren’t speaking are extras.


Any object used by (or seen on) another character during a scene. This includes things like pencils, cups, guns and computers. If you see it or use it, it’s a prop.


Clothes your characters wear in each scene — even if they just change shirts or jackets between scenes!


For actors who change their looks between scenes, or for characters whose looks change during the course of the story (like someone who gets beat up).

Special Effects

Anything that doesn’t happen naturally during filming — special lighting effects, stunts, CGI animation, rain, etc.

Check For Script Formatting Issues

One of the most common mistakes that I see even seasoned screenwriters make is formatting issues. Most often this comes in the form of not having an appropriate slugline before each scene header, or failing to double space after the slugline (so it’s difficult to read).

Screenwriting also requires a certain kind of formatting for your action description. If you are writing a script that is supposed to be read by actors, then you should use the “Arial” font size 11, with all character names capitalized and action description single-spaced.

This type of formatting is called “stage direction.”

Another thing that many screenwriters are unaware of is the fact that you MUST include a page number at the top of every page.

This sounds like common sense but I have seen many scripts where this rule was overlooked and it can cause big problems for production if you don’t include page numbers.

One thing that I have noticed about newer writers over time is that they love to use fancy fonts in their scripts.

Please stay away from these fonts as they can cause problems for production and make it harder for an actor to read your script. Arial is always your best bet when it comes to formatting.

Look For Invisible Elements In Your Script Breakdown

There is an old saying in theater: “You can never have too much stage left.” It means that if you want to get the audience to feel like they are at some point on stage with you, you need more going on stage left than on stage right.

Treat your script like a stage set, and look for the elements that seem invisible to your readers.For example, if a character says something like “I’m not hungry.

I’ll just grab a yogurt at the cafeteria before my meeting,” your reader will likely assume that there is a cafeteria and a meeting and everything else necessary to make this scene clear.

But what if it’s a hospital? Or an office building? What if there is no cafeteria? What if the meeting isn’t for another hour?

The easiest thing to do is add some invisible elements so your reader knows where we are and can see the scene as you do. You don’t even have to write them into the main text of your script, but you can include them in the footnotes or in parenthetical asides:”The cafeteria is closed on Saturdays” or “(Meeting postponed until next week.)”

The point is we always want our readers to be able to see what we see; invisible elements muddy up.

Why Do You Need A Script Breakdown?

Script breakdowns are a very important part of pre-production. A breakdown is a document that is distributed to every department head, and they in turn put together the budget based on that breakdown. Here are some reasons why you need to have a script breakdown:

  1. It helps you understand the script better. It allows you to break down the script by scene, action, description and notes. This allows you to get a better grasp of what is really happening in the script and helps you know who your characters are, what they look like, what their personality is and for the production designer where all the furniture, props and set dressing will go.
  1. It lets departments prepare for filming If you have a script breakdown then it lets other departments prepare for the shoot. Actors might get their sides ready to memorize or the camera operator can take measurements of the location that he or she will be filming in.
  1. It gives you an idea of how much money will be required for each department’s needs Script breakdowns give each department head an idea of how many extras they’ll need, how many days it will take to film at each location, who needs transportation and even how much food will be needed too. 

Key Elements Of A Script

The key elements of a script are the same for every presentation. The script is the backbone of your presentation and it’s important to prepare it well so that you can deliver it smoothly.

Here are the key aspects to include in your script:


The Introduction 

The introduction sets the scene for your presentation, builds excitement and grabs your audience’s attention. Include a brief summary of the main points you intend to cover in your presentation.

Don’t give away all of your information at this stage though! You want to leave some surprises for later on in the presentation when they will have greater impact.

The Problem

The problem or opportunity that you are addressing should be clearly stated here.

This is where you introduce the topic and create a sense of urgency around it. The problem should be expressed in terms that relate to what is going wrong in the customer’s life right now, or why they need this product/service immediately.

The Solution

Here you describe how your product or service solves their problem and how it will make their lives better. The solution should be presented in terms that relate to how easy it is for them to use or what benefits they will gain from using it.

This is also where you can begin introducing any additional benefits that make your product special.

Steps For Completing A Script Breakdown

There is an order to how a script breakdown should be done. When deciding how to break down a script, look to first divide your index cards into two columns: one for Act I, the other for Act II.

Divide those columns into rows and label them with the scenes in the act.

  1. Break down the script by scene and make note of any action or stage direction that might need to be accounted for; then transfer that information to your master scene list or chart.
  2. Once you have your master scene list completed, go through each of your cards and assign each card to its corresponding scene number on your master list using identification numbers or letters (this will help you further organize the breakdown process).
  3. Check off each card as it is assigned its corresponding scene number, and don’t forget to double-check once you’ve completed all of Act I before moving on with the next step.
  4. Next, organize the cards into a sequence that makes logical sense based upon various factors including story structure, character relationships, plot development and more.

This process can best be described as an elimination decision-making process–simply choose which card tells the most important part of the story at that point in time and eliminate any other cards that are not.

Where The Elements Lie in Script Breakdown

The Elements of a Story

Plot: Plot is the structure of a story. It is the series of incidents that make up a story and the events in a story are called plot points.

A plot point is an important event, usually the turning point or crisis of a story.

Tension: Tension is created when the Hero and his opponent are in conflict.

The Hero wants something and his opponent is preventing him from getting it. The more obstacles that stand between the hero and his goal, the more tension there is.

There has to be a struggle to overcome each obstacle.

Conflict: Conflict is what keeps your audience interested in your movie. The more conflict you have in your movie, the better it will be.

The most basic form of conflict is between the Hero and Villain, but there can also be inner conflict within the hero himself that adds to the overall conflict. The character must be tested several times before he accomplishes his goal.

Determinism: Determinism is fate or destiny. It means that things happen as they were meant to happen through cause and effect, or because of certain laws or rules that exist within your universe (your story).

It’s important to know where your characters are going so you can set up their actions accordingly.

Identify Hidden Cast in Script Breakdown

Ever wonder how movies get made? From the casting process to the editing room and all the way to the premiere, it’s a long journey.

The cast list is crucial in any film, because it reveals which actors will be playing which characters.

Telling your story in a linear fashion can be tricky when writing a screenplay, especially if you’re creating a story filled with twists and turns.

You want viewers to enjoy your characters, but you also want to surprise them by pulling out unforeseen details.

One of the best ways to do that is through a hidden cast. This means using secondary and tertiary characters to introduce plot points that further the main story and keep viewers on their toes.

Let’s look at an example from the 1998 science fiction thriller “The Truman Show.” The movie follows actor Truman Burbank (Jim Carrey) as he realizes his life isn’t as normal as he thought it was.

He soon discovers he’s actually the star of an elaborate reality show called “The Truman Show,” which has been filming him 24/7 for his entire life.Hidden cast members play pivotal roles in Truman’s journey toward this realization.

One of them is Marlon (Noah Emmerich), one of Truman’s best friends, who cracks open Truman’s reality.

Hidden Crew in Script Breakdown

Sometimes it’s easy to identify the crew of a movie, but there are a lot of people who you may not recognize. Here is a list.

Camera Operator: The person who actually controls the camera. This could be a 2nd Camera Operator or an Assistant Camera Operator (AC/2nd AC) depending on the size of the production.

Camera Assistant: The person who prepares the camera for shooting, loads film and keeps track of camera accessories. This is usually done by a 1st Camera Assistant (1st AC).

A Still Photographer: A photographer that shoots pictures during production to use as reference material for compositing and set design. This is usually done by a 2nd Camera Assistant (2nd AC).

A Clapper Loader: A Clapper loader loads film into the camera and makes sure that it is always ready to shoot when called upon by the Director of Photography (DP). This is usually done by a 1st Camera Assistant (1st AC).

Electrician: The person responsible for all electric equipment on set including lighting and generators. They also know how to rig lights so they can be hoisted high up into the air or hung from scaffolding. Electricians are highly skilled workers and should only be directed.

Hidden Equipment in Script Breakdown

In this video, I want to talk about some of the equipment that you might need to make a movie.

We’ll look at things like tripods, dollies, cranes and sliders. These are all important to any filmmaker, but they are not always as easy to find as lights and microphones.

So here is a list of places that you can rent or buy these items from.

Tripods – Your basic tripod is an important piece of equipment for any filmmaker. A good tripod will set you back around $150 new or $50 used. You can get them on Craigslist for less, it’s just hard to find a good one there.

So if you are looking for a good tripod with a fluid head, I recommend B&H Photo or Adorama Camera . Both have low prices and great selection.

Dolly – A Dolly is an essential piece of equipment for any filmmaker who wants smooth tracking shots. It’s also one of the most expensive pieces of equipment in the entire kit.

If you are making a short film, renting one isn’t going to break the bank.

But if your movie requires a lot of dolly shots then this could be an expensive proposition. My favorite dolly rental place is Pixiondo.

Hidden Kits And Fees in Script Breakdown

Hidden fees and kits are all too common in script breakdowns. Here are a few tips to help you avoid getting burned:

  1. Never trust an estimate of what the breakdown will cost. Breakdown companies often say you can expect to pay X amount for a certain service, but when it’s time to pay the bill, that estimate always comes back as more than expected.

$20,000 for a breakdown?  What?  Is this a joke?

  1. Watch out for hidden fees – things like “delivery” or “shipping” can be added on at any time and will quickly add hundreds if not thousands of dollars to your budget for a script breakdown.
  2. Never do business with anyone who doesn’t give you a copy of their company’s full contract before you sign and send them any money. When you receive your copy of their contract, read the fine print carefully and keep it handy while working with that company so you can reference it if needed.
  3. Make sure there is nothing in the contract that says they own the rights to your project once your company has paid them in full. This way they can’t come back demanding more money after the fact just because they “think” they deserve it.

Identify Hidden Special Effects in Script Breakdown

The script break down is the step before you start working on your film. It means that you have to identify all of the effects that are needed for shooting your film.

Trying to identify the special effects in your script breakdown can be a very time consuming process. That is why we have put together this guide to help you identify all of the special effects involved in your filming project.

A lot of people get confused between special effects and visual effects. The difference between them is that Special Effects are done during a shoot, while visual effects are done in post-production.

A special effect is an image or sound created by a film technique, like a cut (referring to cutting actions), a dissolve, a fade-in or fade-out, superimposition, stop motion and so on.

Visual Effects can be further subdivided into two categories:

Image Manipulation: These are effects which are applied over an existing picture or footage like greenscreen compositing and rotoscoping.

Animation: This refers to any effect where the camera is moving through 3D space with objects animated in the scene like CGI elements or 2D elements like matte paintings, drawings and so on.


How To Break Down A Script

When you’re an actor, it’s not always easy to figure out how to break down a script. It can be a very overwhelming process that leads to hours of frustration, but it doesn’t have to be.

In fact, after reading this article you’ll learn exactly how to break down a script and get the character you want for your next audition.The first thing you need to do is decide if the role is right for you.

This doesn’t mean just the character, but also the casting director, the production company and studio, etc. I’ve learned that getting into a project that doesn’t fit with any of these can be a waste of time and energy (it’s happened to me more than once).

After deciding if the role fits with your career objectives, you need to find out what type of character they are looking for. If this information isn’t in the breakdown, then make sure you ask before going to an audition.

Your agent or manager should be able to give some insight into this as well.This may seem like common sense, but it’s surprising how many people don’t do it! The next thing you must do is study the script.

Break down each scene and find out what happens in each one. 

Script Breakdowns Start The Process Of Turning Words Into Images

Script breakdowns are the process of taking a script and breaking it down into panels. Although this is most important in comic book art, it can be applied to any form of sequential art, including storyboards for film or advertising agencies, or even video games.

They are the most critical aspect of making comics, but I’ve read that many artists hate doing them. I think this is because they see them as chores–something to get out of the way so that they can get on with their real work.

But if you don’t do them well, you’ll find yourself either redrawing pages or scrapping scenes entirely during the penciling phase.

The purpose of script breakdowns is to plan your pages out before you start drawing on paper. This way you won’t waste time redrawing pages because you forgot to include something important like a character’s head next to an arm that comes up from off panel and grabs him.

Too many artists skip this step, thinking it doesn’t matter if their pencils aren’t perfect before they go in the inkwell since they’ll just fix them later in Photoshop. This is a mistake–if your pencils aren’t properly laid out ahead.